Is it possible to assign a base class object to a derived class reference with an explicit typecast in C#?.

I have tried it and it creates a run-time error.

Solution 1

No. A reference to a derived class must actually refer to an instance of the derived class (or null). Otherwise how would you expect it to behave?

For example:

object o = new object();
string s = (string) o;
int i = s.Length; // What can this sensibly do?

If you want to be able to convert an instance of the base type to the derived type, I suggest you write a method to create an appropriate derived type instance. Or look at your inheritance tree again and try to redesign so that you don't need to do this in the first place.

Solution 2

No, that's not possible since assigning it to a derived class reference would be like saying "Base class is a fully capable substitute for derived class, it can do everything the derived class can do", which is not true since derived classes in general offer more functionality than their base class (at least, that's the idea behind inheritance).

You could write a constructor in the derived class taking a base class object as parameter, copying the values.

Something like this:

public class Base {
    public int Data;

    public void DoStuff() {
        // Do stuff with data
    }
}

public class Derived : Base {
    public int OtherData;

    public Derived(Base b) {
        this.Data = b.Data;
        OtherData = 0; // default value
    }

    public void DoOtherStuff() {
        // Do some other stuff
    }
}

In that case you would copy the base object and get a fully functional derived class object with default values for derived members. This way you can also avoid the problem pointed out by Jon Skeet:

Base b = new Base();//base class
Derived d = new Derived();//derived class

b.DoStuff();    // OK
d.DoStuff();    // Also OK
b.DoOtherStuff();    // Won't work!
d.DoOtherStuff();    // OK

d = new Derived(b);  // Copy construct a Derived with values of b
d.DoOtherStuff();    // Now works!

Solution 3

I had this problem and solved it by adding a method that takes a type parameter and converts the current object into that type.

public TA As<TA>() where TA : Base
{
    var type = typeof (TA);
    var instance = Activator.CreateInstance(type);

     PropertyInfo[] properties = type.GetProperties();
     foreach (var property in properties)
     {
         property.SetValue(instance, property.GetValue(this, null), null);
     }

     return (TA)instance;
}

That means that you can use it in you code like this:

var base = new Base();
base.Data = 1;
var derived = base.As<Derived>();
Console.Write(derived.Data); // Would output 1

Solution 4

Solution with JsonConvert (instead of typecast)

Today i faced the same issue and i found a simple and quick solution to the problem using JsonConvert.

var base = new BaseClass();
var json = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(base);
DerivedClass derived = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<DerivedClass>(json);

Solution 5

As many others have answered, No.

I use the following code on those unfortunate occasions when I need to use a base type as a derived type. Yes it is a violation of the Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP) and yes most of the time we favor composition over inheritance. Props to Markus Knappen Johansson whose original answer this is based upon.

This code in the base class:

    public T As<T>()
    {
        var type = typeof(T);
        var instance = Activator.CreateInstance(type);

        if (type.BaseType != null)
        {
            var properties = type.BaseType.GetProperties();
            foreach (var property in properties)
                if (property.CanWrite)
                    property.SetValue(instance, property.GetValue(this, null), null);
        }

        return (T) instance;
    }

Allows:

    derivedObject = baseObect.As<derivedType>()

Since it uses reflection, it is "expensive". Use accordingly.

Solution 6

No it is not possible, hence your runtime error.

But you can assign an instance of a derived class to a variable of base class type.

Solution 7

As everyone here said, that's not possible directly.

The method I prefer and is rather clean, is to use an Object Mapper like AutoMapper.

It will do the task of copying properties from one instance to another (Not necessarily the same type) automatically.

Solution 8

Expanding on @ybo's answer - it isn't possible because the instance you have of the base class isn't actually an instance of the derived class. It only knows about the members of the base class, and doesn't know anything about those of the derived class.

The reason that you can cast an instance of the derived class to an instance of the base class is because the derived class actually already is an instance of the base class, since it has those members already. The opposite cannot be said.

Solution 9

You can cast a variable that is typed as the base-class to the type of a derived class; however, by necessity this will do a runtime check, to see if the actual object involved is of the correct type.

Once created, the type of an object cannot be changed (not least, it might not be the same size). You can, however, convert an instance, creating a new instance of the second type - but you need to write the conversion code manually.

Solution 10

In c# 9.0 you can try to use records for this. They have default copy constructor that copy all fields - no need to use reflection / constructor with all fields.

public record BaseR
{
   public string Prop1 { get; set; }
}

public record DerivedR : BaseR
{
   public DerivedR(BaseR baseR) : base(baseR) { }
   public string Prop2 { get; set; }
}

var baseR = new BaseR { Prop1 = "base prob" };
var derivedR = new DerivedR(baseR) { Prop2 = "new prop" };

Solution 11

You have to use an object cloner/copier that will assign all the properties one by one.

Doing this by hand is inefficient and not future-proof. But serializing & deserializing to JSON and back is not the best solution, it is slow and very memory inefficient.

However, using AutoMapper is fast. PropMapper is even faster.

PS. Disclosure: I am a contributor at PropMapper open source project.

Solution 12

No, it is not possible.

Consider a scenario where an ACBus is a derived class of base class Bus. ACBus has features like TurnOnAC and TurnOffAC which operate on a field named ACState. TurnOnAC sets ACState to on and TurnOffAC sets ACState to off. If you try to use TurnOnAC and TurnOffAC features on Bus, it makes no sense.

Solution 13

class Program
{
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        a a1 = new b();  
        a1.print();  
    }
}
class a
{
    public a()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("base class object initiated");
    }
    public void print()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("base");
    }
}
class b:a
{
    public b()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("child class object");
    }
    public void print1()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("derived");
    }
}

}

when we create a child class object,the base class object is auto initiated so base class reference variable can point to child class object.

but not vice versa because a child class reference variable can not point to base class object because no child class object is created.

and also notice that base class reference variable can only call base class member.

Solution 14

There actually IS a way to do this. Think about how you might use Newtonsoft JSON to deserialize an object from json. It will (or at least can) ignore missing elements and populate all the elements that it does know about.

So here's how I did it. A small code sample will follow my explanation.

  1. Create an instance of your object from the base class and populate it accordingly.

  2. Using the "jsonconvert" class of Newtonsoft json, serialize that object into a json string.

  3. Now create your sub class object by deserializing with the json string created in step 2. This will create an instance of your sub class with all the properties of the base class.

This works like a charm! So.. when is this useful? Some people asked when this would make sense and suggested changing the OP's schema to accommodate the fact that you can't natively do this with class inheritance (in .Net).

In my case, I have a settings class that contains all the "base" settings for a service. Specific services have more options and those come from a different DB table, so those classes inherit the base class. They all have a different set of options. So when retrieving the data for a service, it's much easier to FIRST populate the values using an instance of the base object. One method to do this with a single DB query. Right after that, I create the sub class object using the method outlined above. I then make a second query and populate all the dynamic values on the sub class object.

The final output is a derived class with all the options set. Repeating this for additional new sub classes takes just a few lines of code. It's simple, and it uses a very tried and tested package (Newtonsoft) to make the magic work.

This example code is vb.Net, but you can easily convert to c#.

' First, create the base settings object.
    Dim basePMSettngs As gtmaPayMethodSettings = gtmaPayments.getBasePayMethodSetting(payTypeId, account_id)
    Dim basePMSettingsJson As String = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(basePMSettngs, Formatting.Indented)

    ' Create a pmSettings object of this specific type of payment and inherit from the base class object
    Dim pmSettings As gtmaPayMethodAimACHSettings = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject(Of gtmaPayMethodAimACHSettings)(basePMSettingsJson)

Solution 15

You can use an Extention:

public static void CopyOnlyEqualProperties<T>(this T objDest, object objSource) where T : class
    {
        foreach (PropertyInfo propInfo in typeof(T).GetProperties())
            if (objSource.GetType().GetProperties().Any(z => z.Name == propInfo.Name && z.GetType() == propInfo.GetType()))
                propInfo.SetValue(objDest, objSource.GetType().GetProperties().First(z => z.Name == propInfo.Name && z.GetType() == propInfo.GetType()).GetValue(objSource));
    }

In Code:

public class BaseClass
{
  public string test{ get; set;}
}
public Derived : BaseClass
{
//Some properies
}

public void CopyProps()
{
   BaseClass baseCl =new BaseClass();
   baseCl.test="Hello";
   Derived drv=new Derived();
   drv.CopyOnlyEqualProperties(baseCl);
   //Should return Hello to the console now in derived class.
   Console.WriteLine(drv.test);

}

Solution 16

Not in the Traditional Sense... Convert to Json, then to your object, and boom, done! Jesse above had the answer posted first, but didn't use these extension methods which make the process so much easier. Create a couple of extension methods:

    public static string ConvertToJson<T>(this T obj)
    {
        return JsonConvert.SerializeObject(obj);
    }
    public static T ConvertToObject<T>(this string json)
    {
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(json))
        {
            return Activator.CreateInstance<T>();
        }
        return JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<T>(json);
    }

Put them in your toolbox forever, then you can always do this:

var derivedClass = baseClass.ConvertToJson().ConvertToObject<derivedClass>();

Ah, the power of JSON.

There are a couple of gotchas with this approach: We really are creating a new object, not casting, which may or may not matter. Private fields will not be transferred, constructors with parameters won't be called, etc. It is possible that some child json won't be assigned. Streams are not innately handled by JsonConvert. However, if our class doesn't rely on private fields and constructors, this is a very effective method of moving data from class to class without mapping and calling constructors, which is the main reason why we want to cast in the first place.

Solution 17

Might not be relevent, but I was able to run code on a derived object given its base. It's definitely more hacky than I'd like, but it works:

public static T Cast<T>(object obj)
{
    return (T)obj;
}

...

//Invoke parent object's json function
MethodInfo castMethod = this.GetType().GetMethod("Cast").MakeGenericMethod(baseObj.GetType());
object castedObject = castMethod.Invoke(null, new object[] { baseObj });
MethodInfo jsonMethod = baseObj.GetType ().GetMethod ("ToJSON");
return (string)jsonMethod.Invoke (castedObject,null);

Solution 18

You can do this using generic.

public class BaseClass
{
    public int A { get; set; }
    public int B { get; set; }
    private T ConvertTo<T>() where T : BaseClass, new()
    {
         return new T
         {
             A = A,
             B = B
         }
    }

    public DerivedClass1 ConvertToDerivedClass1()
    {
         return ConvertTo<DerivedClass1>();
    }

    public DerivedClass2 ConvertToDerivedClass2()
    {
         return ConvertTo<DerivedClass2>();
    }
}

public class DerivedClass1 : BaseClass
{
    public int C { get; set; }
}

public class DerivedClass2 : BaseClass
{
    public int D { get; set; }
}

You get three benefits using this approach.

  1. You are not duplicating the code
  2. You are not using reflection (which is slow)
  3. All of your conversions are in one place

Solution 19

I know this is old but I've used this successfully for quite a while.

   private void PopulateDerivedFromBase<TB,TD>(TB baseclass,TD derivedclass)
    {
        //get our baseclass properties
        var bprops = baseclass.GetType().GetProperties();
        foreach (var bprop in bprops)
        {
            //get the corresponding property in the derived class
            var dprop = derivedclass.GetType().GetProperty(bprop.Name);
            //if the derived property exists and it's writable, set the value
            if (dprop != null && dprop.CanWrite)
                dprop.SetValue(derivedclass,bprop.GetValue(baseclass, null),null);
        }
    } 

Solution 20

I combined some portions of the previous answers (thanks to those authors) and put together a simple static class with two methods that we're using.

Yes, it's simple, no it doesn't cover all scenarios, yes it could be expanded and made better, no it's not perfect, yes it could possibly be made more efficient, no it's not the greatest thing since sliced bread, yes there are full-on robust nuget package object mappers out there that are way better for heavy use, etc etc, yada yada - but it works for our basic needs though :)

And of course it will try to map values from any object to any object, derived or not (only the public properties that are named the same of course - ignores the rest).

USAGE:

SesameStreetCharacter puppet = new SesameStreetCharacter() { Name = "Elmo", Age = 5 };

// creates new object of type "RealPerson" and assigns any matching property 
// values from the puppet object 
// (this method requires that "RealPerson" have a parameterless constructor )
RealPerson person = ObjectMapper.MapToNewObject<RealPerson>(puppet);

// OR

// create the person object on our own 
// (so RealPerson can have any constructor type that it wants)
SesameStreetCharacter puppet = new SesameStreetCharacter() { Name = "Elmo", Age = 5 };
RealPerson person = new RealPerson("tall") {Name = "Steve"};

// maps and overwrites any matching property values from 
// the puppet object to the person object so now our person's age will get set to 5 and
// the name "Steve" will get overwritten with "Elmo" in this example
ObjectMapper.MapToExistingObject(puppet, person);

STATIC UTILITY CLASS:

public static class ObjectMapper
{
    // the target object is created on the fly and the target type 
    // must have a parameterless constructor (either compiler-generated or explicit) 
    public static Ttarget MapToNewObject<Ttarget>(object sourceobject) where Ttarget : new()
    {
        // create an instance of the target class
        Ttarget targetobject = (Ttarget)Activator.CreateInstance(typeof(Ttarget));

        // map the source properties to the target object
        MapToExistingObject(sourceobject, targetobject);

        return targetobject;
    }

    // the target object is created beforehand and passed in
    public static void MapToExistingObject(object sourceobject, object targetobject)
    {
        // get the list of properties available in source class
        var sourceproperties = sourceobject.GetType().GetProperties().ToList();

        // loop through source object properties
        sourceproperties.ForEach(sourceproperty => {

            var targetProp = targetobject.GetType().GetProperty(sourceproperty.Name);

            // check whether that property is present in target class and is writeable
            if (targetProp != null && targetProp.CanWrite)
            {
                // if present get the value and map it
                var value = sourceobject.GetType().GetProperty(sourceproperty.Name).GetValue(sourceobject, null);
                targetobject.GetType().GetProperty(sourceproperty.Name).SetValue(targetobject, value, null);
            }
        });
    }
}

Solution 21

You can use a copy constructor that immediately invokes the instance constructor, or if your instance constructor does more than assignments have the copy constructor assign the incoming values to the instance.

class Person
{
    // Copy constructor 
    public Person(Person previousPerson)
    {
        Name = previousPerson.Name;
        Age = previousPerson.Age;
    }

    // Copy constructor calls the instance constructor.
    public Person(Person previousPerson)
        : this(previousPerson.Name, previousPerson.Age)
    {
    }

    // Instance constructor.
    public Person(string name, int age)
    {
        Name = name;
        Age = age;
    }

    public int Age { get; set; }

    public string Name { get; set; }
}

Referenced the Microsoft C# Documentation under Constructor for this example having had this issue in the past.

Solution 22

With regarding @MarkusKnappenJohansson answer and below comments we can change his code extending extension function :) so it may update an existing deriving class instance via this code :

 public static TDerived As<TDerived>(this Base baseInstance, TDerived updateDerivedInstance = null) where TDerived : Base, new()
    {
        Type baseType = typeof(Base);
        Type derivedType = typeof(TDerived);

        PropertyInfo[] properties = baseType.GetProperties();
        object instanceDerived = null;

        if (updateDerivedInstance == null)
        {
            instanceDerived = Activator.CreateInstance(derivedType);             
        }
        else
        {
            instanceDerived = (object)(updateDerivedInstance);
        }

        foreach (PropertyInfo property in properties)
        {
            if (property.CanWrite)
            {
                property.SetValue(instanceDerived, property.GetValue(baseInstance, null), null);
            }
        }

        return (TDerived)instanceDerived;
    }

Usage for getting new derived Instance is var base = new Base(); base.Data = 1; var derived = base.As<Derived>(); Console.Write(derived.Data); // Would output 1

Usage for updating existing derived Instance is var derived = new Derived(); var base = new Base(); base.Data = 1; var derivedUpdated = base.As<Derived>(derived); Console.Write(derivedUpdated.Data); // Would output 1

Solution 23

Another solution is to add extension method like so:

 public static void CopyProperties(this object destinationObject, object sourceObject, bool overwriteAll = true)
        {
            try
            {
                if (sourceObject != null)
                {
                    PropertyInfo[] sourceProps = sourceObject.GetType().GetProperties();
                    List<string> sourcePropNames = sourceProps.Select(p => p.Name).ToList();
                    foreach (PropertyInfo pi in destinationObject.GetType().GetProperties())
                    {
                        if (sourcePropNames.Contains(pi.Name))
                        {
                            PropertyInfo sourceProp = sourceProps.First(srcProp => srcProp.Name == pi.Name);
                            if (sourceProp.PropertyType == pi.PropertyType)
                                if (overwriteAll || pi.GetValue(destinationObject, null) == null)
                                {
                                    pi.SetValue(destinationObject, sourceProp.GetValue(sourceObject, null), null);
                                }
                        }
                    }
                }
            }
            catch (ApplicationException ex)
            {
                throw;
            }
        }

then have a constructor in each derived class that accepts base class:

  public class DerivedClass: BaseClass
    { 
        public DerivedClass(BaseClass baseModel)
        {
            this.CopyProperties(baseModel);
        }
    }

It will also optionally overwrite destination properties if already set (not null) or not.

Solution 24

Is it possible to assign a base class object to a derived class reference with an explicit typecast in C#?.

Not only explicit, but also implicit conversions are possible.

C# language doesn't permit such conversion operators, but you can still write them using pure C# and they work. Note that the class which defines the implicit conversion operator (Derived) and the class which uses the operator (Program) must be defined in separate assemblies (e.g. the Derived class is in a library.dll which is referenced by program.exe containing the Program class).

//In library.dll:
public class Base { }

public class Derived {
    [System.Runtime.CompilerServices.SpecialName]
    public static Derived op_Implicit(Base a) {
        return new Derived(a); //Write some Base -> Derived conversion code here
    }

    [System.Runtime.CompilerServices.SpecialName]
    public static Derived op_Explicit(Base a) {
        return new Derived(a); //Write some Base -> Derived conversion code here
    }
}

//In program.exe:
class Program {
    static void Main(string[] args) {
        Derived z = new Base(); //Visual Studio can show squiggles here, but it compiles just fine.
    }
}

When you reference the library using the Project Reference in Visual Studio, VS shows squiggles when you use the implicit conversion, but it compiles just fine. If you just reference the library.dll, there are no squiggles.

Solution 25

How about:

public static T As<T>(this object obj)
    {
        return JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<T>(JsonConvert.SerializeObject(obj));
    }

Solution 26

Best way to add all base properties to derived item is use reflection in costructor. Try this code, without creating methods or instances.

    public Derived(Base item) :base()
    {

        Type type = item.GetType();

        System.Reflection.PropertyInfo[] properties = type.GetProperties();
        foreach (var property in properties)
        {
            try
            {
                property.SetValue(this, property.GetValue(item, null), null);
            }
            catch (Exception) { }
        }

    }

Solution 27

I disagree that it is not possible. You can do it like this:

public class Auto 
{ 
    public string Make {get; set;}
    public string Model {get; set;}
}

public class Sedan : Auto
{ 
    public int NumberOfDoors {get; set;}
}

public static T ConvertAuto<T>(Sedan sedan) where T : class
{
    object auto = sedan;
    return (T)loc;
}

Usage:

var sedan = new Sedan();
sedan.NumberOfDoors = 4;
var auto = ConvertAuto<Auto>(sedan);

Solution 28

This is how I solved this for fields. You can do the same iteration through properties if you want. You may want to do some checks for null etc. but this is the idea.

 public static DerivedClass ConvertFromBaseToDerived<BaseClass, DerivedClass>(BaseClass baseClass)
            where BaseClass : class, new()
            where DerivedClass : class, BaseClass, new()
        {
            DerivedClass derived = (DerivedClass)Activator.CreateInstance(typeof(DerivedClass));
            derived.GetType().GetFields().ToList().ForEach(field =>
            {
                var base_ = baseClass.GetType().GetField(field.Name).GetValue(baseClass);
                field.SetValue(derived, base_);

            });

            return derived;
        }

Solution 29

You can just serialize the base object to JSON and then deserialize it to the derived object.

Solution 30

No, see this question which I asked - Upcasting in .NET using generics

The best way is to make a default constructor on the class, construct and then call an Initialise method